TRENTON, N.J. -- Struggling telecommunications equipment maker Lucent Technologies on Monday named as its new president and chief executive a former company official who left last year for Eastman Kodak.
Patricia Russo, 49, spent 20 years with AT&T and Lucent before leaving in August 2000 as once high-flying Lucent was starting to crash along with much of the telecommunications sector.
"This is a job that I feel like I've been preparing for all my life," Russo said. "I was delighted to rejoin Lucent. ... It's like coming home."
In April, Russo became second in command -- president and chief operating officer -- and the heir apparent to the top job at photographic products company Eastman Kodak Co. of Rochester, N.Y.
Lucent chairman Henry Schacht, who has served as interim CEO since Richard McGinn was dismissed in October 2000, said Russo was the unanimous choice of Lucent's board.
"Pat has all the skills Lucent needs right now," said Schacht, who was Lucent's original CEO and plans to stay on as board chairman of the Murray Hill-based company.
With Russo's appointment, the company turned to a longtime insider to continue Schacht's carefully laid rebuilding plan.
That avoids the long learning curve an outsider would have needed, said Ariane Mahler, communications equipment analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in New York.
"They couldn't have picked a better person," Mahler said. "She has tremendous experience."
Last month, Lucent said it would post a bigger loss than Wall Street expected for its first fiscal quarter, with revenues barely half what they were a year ago due to a continuing industrywide downturn. Lucent posted a net loss of $16.2 billion for its 2001 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
Russo served as Lucent's executive vice president of corporate operations from 1997 to 1999, and was president of its business communications systems unit from 1992 to 1996.
Daniel A. Carp, Kodak's chairman and chief executive, will take over Russo's duties there. Meanwhile, the company will seek a new executive for its senior management team.
In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Lucent shares fell 15 cents to $6.95 while Kodak shares fell 3.3 percent, or 95 cents, to $27.94 a share.
On the Net:
Lucent site: http://www.lucent.com
Kodak site: http://www.kodak.com